BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Of the 100-plus student-athletes on the WKU Football roster,
only 10 are seniors. Although small in numbers, they are proving large as leaders
and mentors as the Hilltoppers continue their work during Fall Camp.
The group of 10 represents the fourth-fewest among FBS teams, but as head coach Mike
Sanford said on WKU’s Media Day a week ago, he would not change one thing.
“The 10 seniors who are here are 10 seniors who you want leading. I have a lot of
respect for these guys and they’re going to be a great group,” Sanford said.
“They’re bought into this program and this university, and they’re wholeheartedly
sold out to win a Conference USA championship and achieve our goals.”
One of the three on offense is running back D’Andre Ferby. The Smyrna, Tenn., native
has seen a lot, from the ups of an All-Freshman season in 2015 to missing the entire
2016 campaign after a season-ending injury on his first carry of the year.
Ferby returns for his final season on The Hill as the leading rusher, with 1,204
yards and 14 touchdowns in two full years. He represents the most-tenured Hilltopper
in the running back room and also has assumed a leadership role on the offense,
which also boasts quarterback Drew Eckels and tight end Mik’Quan Deane as other
“It’s surreal that I’m the old man in the group now,” Ferby said with a smirk. “I’ve
played on those teams that won back-to-back Conference USA championships, so I know
what it takes to win. Along with the other nine guys who are seniors, it’s really a
close bond because we’ve seen all the highs and lows. With all that put together
we’re able to be great leaders for this team.”
One of those on the other side of the ball is defensive back DeAndre Farris. The
Shelbyville native bursted onto the scene as a first-time starter in 2017 and
recorded a team-high 14 pass breakups, which tied for most among C-USA defenders and
tied for 13th in the FBS.
“There’s four or five of us on the defense who have taken on leadership roles and it
has been going pretty well so far,” Farris said. “All the teammates have been
encouraging and have had my back.”
There are six total seniors on the defense. Along with Farris are linebackers Masai
Whyte and Der’Quione Mobley, defensive linemen Evan Sayner and Julien Lewis, as well
as safety Drell Greene, who is the lone four-year senior on the roster.
Not a senior but still making the effort to step up as a leader is nickelback
Ta’Corian Darden. Almost at the one-year anniversary of when he earned a
scholarship, not one day has gone by when the Russellville native has not put in the
work to get better.
“Every day we’re learning a new play and every day I’m writing more and more notes
in my book,” Darden said. “This year I’m trying to be a leader. I’m working on being
more vocal, but I definitely lead by my actions, so if I say I’m going to do
something, then I go do it.”
With over 70 combined freshmen and sophomores, there is an uprising of youth on The
Hill and the veterans are seeing it firsthand. Not only are the youngsters talented,
but also willing to learn from those who have worn the Red and White between the
“The majority of these young guys, I have to say they have a great work ethic,”
Ferby said. “They’re very honed in; when the upperclassmen talk they’re attentive
and they listen.”
Darden echoed that sentiment, “Out of the younger players, I’m seeing them learn the
defense, step up and make great plays … There’s a lot of talent out there.”